21 July 2013 Last updated at 06:47 GMT

Japan election: Abe set to win key upper house vote

Voters in Japan are casting ballots in upper house elections expected to deliver a win for PM Shinzo Abe.

Half of the 242 seats in the chamber are being contested.

Polls show Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its allies could secure a majority, meaning a ruling party would control both houses of parliament for the first time in six years.

The deadlock in parliament has been seen as a key factor in Japan’s recent “revolving door” of prime ministers.

Mira Nair boycotts Haifa film festival

Monsoon Wedding director says she will visit Israel only when ‘apartheid is over’

The award-winning film director Mira Nair has rejected an invitation to attend the Haifa International Film Festival, saying she will only visitIsrael “when the walls come down”.

In a series of messages that Nair posted on Twitter on Friday evening, she said she was backing the Palestinian campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel in protest at its 46-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

She had been invited as a guest of honour at the Haifa festival following the release this year of her latest film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. “I will not be going to Israel at this time … I will go to Israel when occupation is gone,” she wrote. “I will go to Israel when the state does not privilege one religion over another. I will go to Israel when apartheid is over.”

Farc rebel group in peace talks: Is Colombia’s 50-year war about to end?

The talks in Cuba are promising. But that doesn’t mean the bloodshed is over

It was dusk in the Amazon as the two female guerrillas stashed the canoe and camouflaged it with branches and leaves. There began an hour-long hike into the gloomy jungle, lit only by the beams from two small torches.

As a camp became visible, a uniformed man toting an AK-47 appeared out of the darkness. Up ahead, a white light illuminated a man with a grey beard working on a laptop. It was Raúl Reyes, a member of the seven-person ruling secretariat of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, more commonly known by their Spanish acronym, Farc. According to many analysts, Reyes was the second-highest ranking member of Farc, a Marxist insurgent group that has been fighting in the mountains of Colombia for 50 years to overthrow the government.

‘Prolific Partner’: German Intelligence Used NSA Spy Program

Angela Merkel and her ministers claim they first learned about the US government’s comprehensive spying programs from press reports. But SPIEGEL has learned that German intelligence services themselves use one of the NSA’s most valuable tools.

Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, and its domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), used a spying program of the American National Security Agency (NSA). This is evident in secret documents from the US intelligence service that have been seen by SPIEGEL journalists. The documents show that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was equipped with a program called XKeyScore intended to “expand their ability to support NSA as we jointly prosecute CT (counterterrorism) targets.” The BND is tasked with instructing the domestic intelligence agency on how to use the program, the documents say.

India’s broken system leaves millions hungry

July 21, 2013

Ben Doherty

South Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media

Twenty-three village children went to school in Bihar on Tuesday last week, promised an education and a meal at midday.

They were dead by the end of the day, poisoned by the food their government gave them.

Tomorrow I have a problem, too, but I worry only about today. 

As India roiled over the tragedy, and politicians blamed teachers, conspiracy, and each other, the nation’s visceral outrage also hinted at a broader frustration: a recognition that, after decades, this tragedy was not the pitiable exception but merely the latest, the most desperately sad, in a long-running series of failures of this country to feed itself.

Half the world’s hungry people live in India: there are more children going without food here than in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Zimbabwe’s first independent TV station now on air


Zimbabwe’s first independent television station is now on air to challenge the 30-year state broadcasting monopoly controlled by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s party said earlier Friday it will take all measures to “cripple” what it calls a pirate station.

The station, known as 1st TV, began broadcasting in the evening. It is a satellite feed from outside Zimbabwe using a free network received by an estimated 700,000 homes across the nation.

The state Herald newspaper reported that George Charamba, Mugabe’s spokesman, said South Africa will be asked to stop broadcasts believed to be beamed from there because they “hurt Zimbabwean interests” ahead of elections on July 31.